Monday, August 27, 2012

Days 2 & 3 of our trip to Italy

The waiting game!

Our flight out of JFK wasn't until 9:40 pm so we stayed at the hotel until check-out time at noon. I was busy making phone calls.

First, I tried our tour company, Brendan, but all I could get was a menu with nine options, none of which fit our situation. I left a message on one, anyway, with a request for a call back so I'd know they got the message.

Next, I tried our booking company, Vacations-to-Go. I got a live person, this time, but was told that our rep was off that day. Instead, they redirected me to her manager. I related our problem and he said he'd get back to us.

He did. He got hold of someone at Brendan and was told that our tour group would be leaving for Tuscany from the Rome hotel at 3:30 the following day and they would advise our tour director so she could wait for us. Our flight was scheduled to arrive around noon so we should be able to make our way by taxi to the hotel on time.


So, we headed over to the terminal. Unfortunately, we couldn't get our boarding passes until 6 so we had to wait all afternoon in the check-in area.

We read.

We people-watched.

I roamed around taking pictures. This was the only keeper:

It's part of a bronze statue overlooking the security check point.

There was a small food court so we had a bite to eat. I had a mushroom Swiss burger with caramelized onions.

Then we waited some more.

Once we got through security, we found seats in our gate area and waited some more.

Eventually, we boarded and took off only about a half hour late.

It was a typical flight with crying babies, announcements in Italian and broken English we couldn't understand, plugged toilets, generic food, and fitful dozing. (I'm saving my money, starting now, for business class on our next overseas flight!)

We arrived in Rome about 12:30 and went through a cursory passport check then on to baggage claim.

And guess what! No luggage! We waited and waited. Nothing. Almost everyone else got theirs but not us and about three other people.

Over to the Alitalia desk we went where we spent about a half hour filling in claim forms.
Just as we turned to go, one of the other women, who'd also lost her luggage, spied hers on the carousel. So, we went to check for ours, too, and there it was! Another flight had arrived and our suitcases were on that one.

Even after all that, we still made it to the hotel, where we were supposed to meet up with our tour group, by 3.

We waited about 45 minutes but they didn't show up. We didn't have international phone plans so had to ask the desk clerk to borrow his phone. While Dottie tried calling Brendan, I emailed the manager at Vacations-to-Go but, of course, by this time it was Saturday and he was not at work.

But, Dottie was luckier and managed to speak to someone from Brendan in London who said she would contact our tour director and have her call us.

She did and informed us that no one from Brendan had contacted her about this and they had no plans to go back to the hotel after sightseeing and were halfway to Tuscany by this time. She said we'd have to take a train to meet up with them in Montecatini.

Well, we were not happy about that! But, she came to our rescue by having a friend of hers collect us from the hotel and take us to the train station to help us navigate the complicated procedure. Neither Dottie nor I had ever taken a train before.

Thank goodness because we never would have made it on time to catch the high-speed Eurostar to Florence. Once there, we had to switch trains for a regional one. This one made plenty of stops but never announced where we were so I had to get off at each stop to figure out which one was Montecatini.

But we did find it then took a taxi to our hotel. Marisa, our tour director was in the lobby with hugs and dinner and drinks.

Then Dottie and I sat on the piazza enjoying the balmy night air, slowly relaxing, ready for our vacation to finally begin.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Cindy said...

I must admit, it does sound as if you got off to a rough start. However, I predict smooth sailing ahead, right???Looking forward to reading more about your adventures!

Lisa said...

What fun is international travel without a few snafus? Hopefully you now have all of yours out of the way! Pictures, pictures, pictures!! We want pictures!! Have a grand time!!